05 November 2014: After 25 days, 6,847 nautical miles, and countless thrills, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing have won the first leg of the round the world Volvo Ocean Race.
In a nail bitingly tense finish, the jubilant team crossed the finish line in Cape Town, South Africa less than one mile ahead of Dongfeng Race Team at 15:10 UTC today.
Thanks to Inmarsat satellite communications, race fans were able to follow the action live as the two teams fought to the last second to take the honours, with video streamed from the boats to Volvo Ocean Race HQ media centre showing the battle unfold from the crews’ perspective.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing led for the majority of the leg across the Southern Ocean from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town but had two or three boats within sight the whole way – such a tight race being unheard of in the event’s 41-year history.
Moments after securing the win, exhausted British skipper Ian Walker spoke about the closing miles of the leg and paid tribute to the Chinese team.
“Over the last couple of hours they threw everything at us. We’ve had people right on our heels for the last 10 days or so,” he said.
Dongfeng Race Team overcame major setbacks to mount a powerful challenge, having suffered a broken rudder and significant damage when a control line snapped – including to an Inmarsat C satellite antenna.
But with a second antenna for safety services and FleetBroadband 250 and 500 terminals on board, the boat did not suffer any loss in communications.
All seven of the race teams can expect a warm welcome when they arrive in Cape Town, where the race village is attracting thousands of visitors.
Among the attractions is a cut through of a Volvo Ocean 65 race boat which shows how Inmarsat’s equipment is being used to deliver safety services, vessel tracking capabilities, audio and video communications and social media access.
Inmarsat will announce the winner of the first Onboard Reporter award in Cape Town on 14 November, presented to the OBR who has produced the most compelling media content throughout the leg.
On 15 November the well-rested teams will take part in the in-port race, before starting the second leg to Abu Dhabi on 19 November. All will know there is still everything to play for before the world’s toughest race comes to an end in Gothenburg, Sweden next June.
Volvo Ocean Race: www.inmarsat.com/vor